Upskilling Tips for The Publishing Training Centre
By Meghan Capper, Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack
Getting your foot in the door with that first publishing job can be quite challenging at times. However, you can find an endless amount of help and resources offered by professionals within the industry. One such initiative is The Publishing Training Centre (PTC) which has been helping publishing hopefuls for the past forty years.
We bring you an interview with Jenna from The Publishing Post team who has enrolled for a number of courses and some bonus advice from the upskilling team!
In conversation with Petra Green, Head of The Publishing Training Centre
The Publishing Training Centre has a growing network of more than fifty people experienced in publishing and training. What are the key aims and benefits?
The PTC is a registered charity. It promotes education for those working in any aspect of the publishing industry. This means training up to 2,500 people a year in various ways. The benefits for those taking a PTC course are meant to be immediate, practical and long-lasting. We want people to come out of our courses feeling more confident and be able to apply their new skills and knowledge to tasks.
The PTC has helped thousands of people learn and develop their skills in the publishing industry. What are the different types of courses available?
Open, virtual courses: These are delivered over Zoom with a tutor presenting and leading the sessions. They cover a variety of topics in digital, editorial, project management, marketing, rights and sales and run from half a day to up to three days, with breaks in between for the longer courses.
Distance learning with tutor support: We have five courses whereby students study remotely at their own pace and then submit assignments. These are then marked by a tutor. Students really value personal interaction and advice. They cover editorial skills, copywriting and setting up your freelance business.
E-learning modules: We have fifteen different online modules, mostly on editorial skills but other areas as well, such as marketing and copyright. These take from two to three hours to eight to ten hours to complete. There are quizzes and exercises to ensure that students are learning. These are designed to give people a short, thorough understanding of a specific subject.
In-company training: Our tutors also deliver bespoke training to groups within publishing companies or other organisations. These are for up to twelve people on a particular topic, such as copy-editing, negotiating, or publishing strategy. These are based on open courses but tailored to the company’s requirements.
Many guides and courses are available for publishing hopefuls and professionals interested in upskilling. Which ones would you recommend and why?
There are a huge number of courses available, from short tasters to degrees and MAs. I’d always go with a trusted provider, one that names its tutors who have been around for a while and is professional and authoritative. For publishing specialisms, that would include the PTC, BookMachine, the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) and Marketability. Universities such as UCL, Derby and others run courses.
It is important to do your research and ask questions. Panels and talks at industry events like the London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair or conferences that the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) or the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) run are worth attending or listening to as well if you have the chance.
How do the tutors tend to be selected?
All the tutors are experienced experts in their field. On the editorial side, we have several of the founding members and senior members of the CIEP. Most of our tutors have held senior roles within the publishing industry. They have run big teams and managed big budgets and companies. They have trained before with different clients and organisations.
How could somebody use or talk about a course from the PTC in their job applications?
We know that many in the publishing industry view PTC courses as a “gold standard” for freelancers and in editorial roles. All our courses are written and taught by those who know the industry well. You could talk about what you learned or how the course made you think or act differently.
You provide a range of course formats. What are the benefits of choosing a self-study course over a virtual course and vice versa?
Self-study courses take longer to complete but they are more thorough. You interact with the tutor but not in a group session. Virtual courses take place on a specific date and time. They have the advantage of being in a group, hearing others’ experiences and working directly with a tutor. They are trying to achieve different things and develop different skills and understanding. So, it’s not always a case of either/or – they can and do complement each other.
How is The PTC making its courses more accessible for those who may find there is a financial barrier?
In 2021 and 2022, we updated all our e-learning modules which cover different aspects of publishing and give people an initial grounding in key skills, such as proofreading, copy-editing and marketing. These are available from £30 and we offer all fifteen modules for a reduced price of £275.
We have a range of discounts on our website which range from 10% to 50% as well as having new half-day courses that are more affordable. It’s worth mentioning if you can’t afford the training as we can see what we can do about pricing.
We’ve introduced a payment plan for our popular distance-learning courses as these are expensive and take months to complete. Students can now pay in three or five instalments, spreading the cost to make the course more affordable.
What is your most popular course that people enrol in?
Introduction to Editorial Skills is our most popular open, virtual course. We run this several times a year. It gives a great entrée into proofreading and copy-editing. Having tutors showing you how things are done and whom you can ask questions are what people love about it.
Essential Proofreading is our most popular distance-learning course. It’s for those who want to brush up or formalise their proofreading skills but also career changers or people who are thinking of moving into a different area within publishing and expanding their personal offering.
Jenna Tomlinson’s Experience, “Highlights in the Charts” Writer (The Publishing Post)
In an attempt to move into the publishing industry from my background in Law and Teaching, I saw a number of courses that looked relevant. I took advantage of an offer where if you signed up for certain courses you could also enrol into two shorter courses for free.
I'm currently enrolled into and halfway through:
● Essential Proofreading
● Introduction to Publishing
● A copy editors guide to working with authors
I’ve previously completed:
● Essential Grammar
The courses have been user-friendly and easy to fit into a schedule of full-time work and other social commitments. The tasks have clear instructions, opportunities to practise elements before beginning activities and informative guides. For me, the biggest benefit is the insight they've given me into the industry. I feel better prepared for interviews and I think my cover letters and applications have improved. In my current volunteer roles, I can now see myself using the tools and skills I've learnt.
Additionally, I think Essential Grammar is a course many people would benefit from. I currently work within local government and drafting documents is a large part of our workload. The tools from this course alone are so applicable in the wider field, it would be a great Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunity for those working outside publishing.
Bonus Advice and Tips
● Get the latest news on socials: Follow the PTC on social media to keep up to date with courses, guides, offers and more! Twitter: @PTCBookHouse, Instagram: @publishingtraining, LinkedIn - The Publishing Training Centre and Facebook - The Publishing Training Centre.
● Useful links: Check out their useful links page for a list of organisations, websites and people who can guide and upskill you on your journey in the publishing industry.
● Read the blog: There is a plethora of free content to learn from. To name a few, “Is an MA in Publishing worth it,” “Five top tips for effective proofreading,” and “How to get work experience in publishing when you’re at school.”
● Add completed courses to your LinkedIn profile and CV: Adding your completed courses is a great way to demonstrate your initiative to connections and potential employers. Remember that these are industry-recognised qualifications!
● Download the PTC Guides: The guides are designed to give the reader enough insight into a particular topic for them to know that they want to delve deeper. They offer help and advice to everyone, whether you are looking to break into the industry or progress in your career.
● Check out the News page: The PTC publishes articles to keep readers informed of the industry’s current affairs and the PTC’s involvement. Increasing your industry awareness can be very useful for interviews and job applications.
Thank you for reading issue Fifty-Nine. Thank you also to Petra from The Publishing Training Centre for being interviewed. Join us again for issue Sixty where we will cover Upskilling Tips for LDN Apprenticeships in Publishing.